CNA Staff, Apr 17, 2020 / 18:00 pm
Reports of an Indian hospital's segregated wards for Hindu and Muslim coronavirus patients drew concern from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, though Indian authorities strongly disputed the allegation.
"USCIRF is concerned with reports of Hindu and Muslim patients separated into separate hospital wards in Gujarat,” the commission said on Twitter and Facebook April 15. “Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading COVID-19.”
The bipartisan U.S. federal government commission linked to a story in the Indian Express newspaper that cites a hospital official and a patient in the city of Ahmedabad in the western coastal Indian state of Gujarat.
India's Ministry for External Affairs opposed the commission, saying it was spreading “misguided reports” and “adding religious color” that distracts from India's efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
“No segregation is being done in civil hospitals on the basis of religion, as clarified by the Gujarat government,” the ministry said April 15.
The reports concern Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, where there are some 1,200 beds prepared for patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.
Medical Superintendent Dr. Gunvant. H. Rathod described the hospital division to the Indian Express, saying “generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients.”
“It is a decision of the government and you can ask them,” he said.